Friday, March 5, 2021

Club licensing: A panacea for football?

Approved by all, but not everyone agrees on its implementation; that is the story of club licensing in Botswana.

As the BFA moves to fully implement the club licensing regulations, fears are coming out large that it may once again be used to target ‘anti-current regime led clubs.’   

Not without cause! When the Botswana Football Association (BFA) approved club licensing in March 2016, it was widely believed to be a panacea for local football.

The process has however not been far from controversy. For many in football, it has been unfairly used to punish clubs perceived to be anti-current regime while those for the regime are easily let go.

But as expected, the BFA says the regulations will be applied fairly and no team will be prejudiced.

According to the BFA Competitions Manager Setete Phuthego, all the association seeks is for all clubs to fully comply with club licensing requirements.

The BFA says since club licensing came into effect in the 2017/2018 season, the implementation has been light and soft.

When full implementation started during the 2018/2019 season, only eight teams out of sixteen fully comply while the rest partially complied.

However, as the Confederation of African Football (CAF) now threatens to take action against FAs for failing to enforce club licensing, the status quo has to change.

On 2nd November, the BFA sent out a circular warning clubs that tough sanctions will be imposed on premiership clubs which will fail compliance ahead of the 2020/2021 season.

In the circular, the BFA states that any club which fails to comply shall lose its entitlement to play in the National League and ‘shall henceforth be relegated to Division in the Regional Football Association.’  

To that effect, premier league clubs have been invited to apply for the national club licensing for the 2020/2021 season and have been told to submit their applications before the end of this month, November 2020.

According Setete, as CAF has tightened its license regulations, the BFA also has to do the same and take this as an opportunity to revamp and put the football clubs in order and to comply.

“The time has come for our teams to follow procedures as they as and not do as they please. As we go into the 2020/2021 season, if we end up having eight teams again or even a smaller number having the club license, they will be the only one’s allowed to play in the league,” he said.

Adding that no matter the status of a team, if it fails to follow procedure they will be knocked of the league and taken to their region division.

“All teams that fail to obtain the license will be taken back to their region division and they will compete like any club who aspires to be in the premier league. From the region to the first division than premier league; where we will still require them to have the club license,” he added.

Concerning other tournaments such as Mascom Top 8, Phuthego says they are yet to sit down with the sponsor to discuss how it will unfold should some clubs in the Top 8 be relegated for noncompliance.

“We have not seat down with the sponsor of Mascom Top 8 Cup about the current developments being made,” Phuthego explained.

“However, they have an option to select how the cup will run; either, having to use only clubs that have license to play in the cup if they are eight or if they will choose to take only 4 clubs to compete,” he said.

He however added that the outcome of Mascom Top 8 Cup will depend on how clubs comply.

In order for the clubs to receive the license, each club must fulfill all mandatory minimum requirements set in the National Club licensing regulations.

The requirements are sporting, infrastructure, administrative and personnel, legal and financial.

According to the five requirement aspects, clubs should have an agreement for a training ground and for a match day venue under infrastructure.

For administrative and personal, they are required to have a head-coach with at least a CAF “ C” license, a development coach with at least a BFA entry level also an office.

Still adding to the list, clubs must have at least two development teams they maintain preferable according to BFA under-17 under sporting. For legal, a valid constitution of the club, valid registration certificate of the club and also followed with prove of annual return submission which is not more than two years.

Closing of the requirements will be the club’s finances; each club will be requested to provide management accounts ‘debit and credit statement’.

Aside from relegation, fines will also be imposed relegations for clubs failing club licensing requirements.

Failure to maintain at least one active youth team will attract a P5000.00 fine with the team given 60-days to assemble the team.

A fine of P2000.00 will be paid if the club fails to maintain and operate its office following an automatic deduction of six points.

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